Aurora’s Gaylord hotel, now 70 percent complete, is set to open in late 2018.
The massive project southwest of Denver International Airport will open in late 2018
It seems only fitting a project the size and scope of the Gaylord Rockies Resort and Convention Center should be home to a really big TV.
And the megahotel casting long shadows over the prairie as it rises near Denver International Airport in northern Aurora certainly won’t disappoint in that regard when it opens to guests late next year.
Inside the resort’s 24,000-square-foot Mountain Pass sports bar — one of its 10 dining and drinking establishments — will reside the largest indoor LED screen in Colorado. At 75 feet long and 14 feet tall, the screen will be too big to broadcast a single image without distortion. Instead, the long screen will break down into three huge screens or infinite combinations of smaller ones, according to David Bray, the vice president of architecture and construction with Gaylord builder RIDA Development Corp.
“Fight nights will be very popular,” Bray cracked when leading a media tour of the hotel’s many one-of-a-kind features Thursday.
Of course, the size of that screen is just one of many eye-popping facts about the 1,501-room, 2 million-square-foot project that is now roughly 70 percent complete. The project, which got underway early last year, is drawing from $800 million in funds.
Gaylord is receiving $84.1 million in state Regional Tourism Act funds and an estimated $300 million in tax breaks from Aurora and other local governments.
One sign of the project’s progress: At the height of construction, there were 12 cranes in operation. On Thursday, there were four.
Perhaps most exciting for Aurora economic development folks (and heartburn-inducing for other Front Range hoteliers and event planners): By the end of September, Gaylord Rockies has already booked more than 600,000 individual room nights between 2019 and 2028.
Those bookings, being made by groups and organizations planning to use at least some of the complex’s 485,000 square feet of convention space, begin Feb. 1, 2019. Michael Kofsky, the hotel’s director of sales and marketing, said that will give the resort a few months’ buffer between opening and first big bookings to work out any kinks. Small groups and single-room guests will be invited to stay during that time, with online reservations expected to open in late July. It’s a prime opportunity
for curious people to check out the resort’s indoor-outdoor heated lazy river and two heated pools.
The aquatics area, along with the fitness center, is one of two features of the Gaylord Rockies that will be reserved for guests only when the hotel opens, Kofsky said.
Bray said workers on site, an average of 1,400 on any given day, finished the process to seal off the interior from the weather around Thanksgiving, meaning interior work will now continue unabated. Bray said 79 subcontractors are working on the project.
“For them to find qualified labor has probably been the biggest challenge in construction,” Bray said.
While rooms in the hotel are just now getting their carpeting and wall finishing, a pair of model rooms in a nearby sales office gives a taste of the Colorado flavor the Gaylord chain is bringing to the facility. Rooms feature aspen tree wallpaper and artistic renderings of moose and bears on the walls.
The centerpiece of the project is its Grand Lodge entryway. It features a 9story, self-supporting glass window oriented toward the Denver skyline and houses a caboose car that once rode on the Sante Fe railroad.
Gaylord’s opening will kick off even more construction activity. Bray said that RIDA expects to start construction on a phased, mixed-use development on 130 acres it owns around the hotel in mid-2019.
It’s an early estimate, but Kofsky shared one other important stat Thursday: For groups, the hotel’s advertised rate will be about $230 per room plus resort fee.
Construction continues on the 1,501-room Gaylord Rockies Resort and Convention Center.
The resort has booked more than 600,000 individual room nights between 2019 and 2028.
Construction crews work on the interior of the Grand Lodge. Its entryway is nine stories high.
An average of 1,400 workers on any given day are helping to finish the 1,501-room, 2 million-square-foot project.